Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gold and Silver Ratio in History


From statements by Pliny it appears that in the Eoman coins the value
of gold to silver was as 5,760 to 336, or as 17| to 1 ; but this was not the
relative value in bullion, which appears to have been as 14^ to 1. This
ratio \iid not long continue. About 189 B. C. the Komans coincided with
the Greeks in estimating the value of gold compared with silver as 10

Upon Caeser's return to Eome with the spoils of war, gold became so
abundant that its value, compared with silver, feU to the ratio of 750 to
100, or 7J to 1. This, however, was a transient depression in the value
of gold, for, in the time of Claudius, about a century later, the value of
gold had advanced so that its ratio to silver became as 12J to 1. This
ratio appears to have been preserved through the reigns of l^ero and
Galba, and during the interval between Galba and Alexander Severus,
or more than 150 years.

Under Constantine the Great the value of gold had receded, as com-
pared with silver, to the ratio of 10 J to 1 ; but 60 years after Constantine
the value had increased to 14f to 1.

In a statement by Herodotus of the revenues of Darius, the son of
Hystaspes, he proceeds upon the supposition that the value of gold to
silver was as 13 to 1. It is supposed that the value of gold did not long
continue to be so high in Greece, for Plato, 50 years after Herodotus,
asserted the ratio to be as 12 to 1. Gold had at that time a lower value
in Persia than in Greece. The ratio in Persia appears to have been as
llf to 1.

Gold afterwards became so plentiful in Greece that its value was esti-
mated, compared with silver, as 10 to 1. This was about 341 years
B. C. It is supposed that the value of gold, compared with silver, con-
tinued to be as 10 to 1 for 170 years after the death of Alexander.

When guineas were first coined in 1663 the value of fine gold, com-
pared with that of fine silver, was rated in the English mipt at 14ff^ to
1. Guineas were then coined as 20 shilling pieces, but were afterwards
made current as 21 shilling pieces. In 1805 the relative value of fine
gold to fine silver was as 15 ^y//^ to 1, and in mints of several other
countries it was rated still higher.

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